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Global Food Waste: A Primer

International Journal of Trend in Scientific Research and Development (IJTSRD)
Volume 4 Issue 1, December 2019 Available Online: www.ijtsrd.com e-ISSN: 2456 – 6470
Global Food Waste: A Primer
Matthew N. O. Sadiku1, Tolulope J. Ashaolu2, Sarhan M. Musa1
G. Perry College of Engineering, Prairie View A&M University, Texas
2College of Food Science, Southwest University, Tiansheng Road Beibei District, Chongqing, P.R. China
How to cite this paper: Matthew N. O.
Sadiku | Tolulope J. Ashaolu | Sarhan M.
Musa "Global Food Waste: A Primer"
International Journal
of Trend in Scientific
(ijtsrd), ISSN: 24566470, Volume-4 |
Issue-1, December
Food waste is a major, highly visible global problem. It has recently attracted
much attention in the world and has become a priority in the global political
agenda. Food waste occurs at different stages of a food value chain, including
agriculture, post-harvest, processing, distribution, retail, and consumption.
Regardless of the causes, we can all pitch in to combat the global challenge and
turn waste into worth. This paper provides an introduction on global food
KEYWORDS: food waste, global food waste, food loss
Copyright © 2019 by author(s) and
International Journal of Trend in Scientific
Research and Development Journal. This
is an Open Access article distributed
under the terms of
Commons Attribution
Food is basically necessary for survival. The world is facing a
serious challenge of feeding its people sustainably. To meet
this challenge, global food supply must significantly increase.
There are two options: (1) increasing food production; and
(2) decreasing food losses and waste [1]. Much food is lost
and wasted in the world today. The issue of food waste is of
high importance in the efforts to combat hunger and
improve food security.
From farm to table, food is lost or wasted at every stage.
Along the food chain process, food is wasted in production,
post-harvest, processing, distribution, and consumption.
Food waste is regarded as the food removed from
the food supply chain, which once was fit for human
consumption. This is partly due inefficient food systems.
Food losses and waste amounts to roughly $680 billion in
developed nations and $310 billion in developing nations.
One-third of food produced for human consumption is lost or
wasted globally, which amounts to about 1.3 billion tons per
the Food
Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. The global
community is currently experiencing constraints imposed by
our resource system, which drives industry to find ways of
improving existing processes or finding new uses for waste.
Food waste has a significant impact on the environment and
achieving the sustainability goals. It has been well said that if
food waste were to be a country, it would be the third largest
producer of greenhouse gases in the world, after China and
US [2].
Unique Paper ID – IJTSRD29485
Strategies to reduce food waste include infrastructure
development, market improvements, and innovations, public
awareness, and legislative action. The United Nations food
agency encourages companies and organizations to join
global food waste initiative and contribute their expertise.
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization
(FAO) called on companies and organizations around the
world to join in SAVE FOOD , a global initiative designed to
cut down on food losses and waste. SAVE FOOD is the global
initiative on food losses and waste reduction, established in
Waste is increasingly becoming a national and international
concern. Food waste can be reduced significantly through
effective management at every stage of the food supply chain
since the food supply chain determines the sources where
food loss actually takes place. The two primary global waste
management goals are: (1) to ensure, by 2020, access for all
to adequate, safe and affordable solid waste collection
services; and (2) to stop uncontrolled dumping and open
burning [3]. Waste management includes the actions of
collection, transport, recovery, and disposal of waste. The
preferences in which waste is being managed follows a
certain hierarchy shown in Figure 1 [4].
New technologies and better practices contribute
reducing food losses
and waste.
Food waste management includes different techniques
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International Journal of Trend in Scientific Research and Development (IJTSRD) @ www.ijtsrd.com eISSN: 2456-6470
which are responsible for the conversion of food waste into
valuable products such the production of chemicals, materials
and fuels. Planning for food shopping is one of the most
effective tools in preventing overbuying.
The waste type is classified into cereals, dairy products,
fruits and vegetables, meat, etc. Fruit and vegetable segment
dominates the market as it has a low shelf life. Four
technologies are most commonly used for food waste
management: Landfilling, composting, anaerobic digestion
and incineration/combustion.
Landfill is disposing waste materials by burying them; it is
the oldest means of waste treatment. Anaerobic digestion
process generates environmental friendly products and byproducts. Combustion or incineration, when properly done,
can be used as a waste-to-energy facility to generate
electricity. Some of these technologies are shown in Figure 2
Food waste is a pressing challenge faced by developing and
developed nations alike. In developed nations, food waste
dominantly occurs at the retail and consumer levels, such as
in hospitals, restaurants, and homes due to a "throw-away"
mindset. A typical food waste at home is illustrated in Figure
3 [6]. Another the root cause for food waste is
overproduction. With the abundance of food everywhere, a
general attitude exists that people can afford to waste food.
Public awareness campaigns and taxation are the major
means of reducing food waste in retail and consumer-related
losses. Food waste education campaigns, like this one in
Canada, are necessary in changing consumer attitudes and
behaviors. Supermarkets can donate unsold goods.
In the United States a substantial number of businesses and
organizations have committed themselves to reducing food
loss and waste by 50 percent in their business activities by
2030. Feeding America is a network of 200 food banks. The
network fights hunger and poor nutrition by working with
food companies, retailers, and farmers to gather food before
it is wasted and distribute it to local food banks across the
country. It combines economics and technology to create an
efficient food recovery and anti-hunger network. Food
pantries, soup kitchens, backpack programs, and shelters
rely on food provided by the food bank to serve thousands of
In other developing countries, several policies were
proposed to reduce food waste. The food waste issue is
currently high on the political agenda in Europe. The
European Commission aims at cutting down food waste to
one-half by 2020 [7]. The commission recommends a set of
policies that could help achieve their food waste reduction
goals. These policies include food waste reporting,
standardization of food date labeling, setting clear targets to
prevent food waste, and design of awareness campaigns [4].
There are five dominant informal food waste disposal routes
used by Australian households: home composting, feeding
scraps to pets, sewer disposal, giving to charity, and
dumping or incineration. This informal food waste
represents a significant proportion of total household food
waste that has been “invisible” to policy makers [8]. The food
Unique Paper ID – IJTSRD29485
and drinks industry is a major economic asset in the United
Kingdom, being the largest manufacturing sector in the
country. The UK food chain is working to become more
resource efficient in order to remain competitive. A 2016
food waste law in France makes it illegal for supermarkets to
throw away edible food.
Although food losses occur at all stages of the food supply
chain, the causes and their impact around the world vary
from place to place. In developing countries, food losses hit
small farmers the hardest. Inefficient processing and drying,
poor storage and insufficient infrastructure, poor equipment,
managerial and technical limitations are instrumental
factors in food waste in Africa.
Various governments of developing countries are
introducing stringent rules to reduce food waste. Once
governments and organizations set ambition, the ambition
will motivate action. The World Bank is addressing the issue
through loans and by coordinated food waste management.
Measures to reduce food waste may involve investment in
infrastructure and transportation, including in technology
for storage and cooling.
Innovations to create low-cost storage methods may reduce
food waste caused by poor storage and lack of cold storage.
Mobile technology and social media can be used to minimize
household-level food waste. Citrus peel, waste cooking oil,
and cashew shell nut liquid are used in countries such as
China, the UK, Tanzania, Spain, Greece, and Morocco. The
main drivers of changes in the food patterns in Brazil are
associated with changes in the regional agricultural base, the
availability of new foods and new cultures, and the change in
the income of the population, which affects dietary habits
The reduction of food waste leads towards the reduction of
hunger and malnutrition, consequently, improving food
security in all nations of the world. Food retailers,
restaurants, cafes, hospitals, and hotels can benefits from
minimizing food waste. Food waste deprive the poor living in
developing regions of opportunities to access food, cause
significant depletion of resources such as land, water, and
fossil fuels, and increase the greenhouse gas emissions
associated with food production [10]. Food waste impacts
food security by reducing the availability of food at national
and global levels. No “one size fits all” when it comes to food
waste reduction strategies.
One major challenge to food waste reduction strategies is the
limited evidence on the effectiveness of the strategies.
Future research on strategies for food waste reduction will
provide valuable information on what works [11].
Measurement-based studies are lacking for developing
nations for better policy making and mitigation strategies on
the environmental impacts.
Food waste has serious social, economic, environmental, and
nutritional consequences. It is a major threat to global
sustainability. It represents a noticeable inefficiency in the
global food system. It amounts to a major needless
squandering of resources, including water, land, energy,
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labor, and capital. It poses a major challenge to food security,
food safety, the economy, and environmental sustainability.
A common trend is the positive attitude towards food waste
prevention. Effective reduction in food waste requires a
coordinated effort involving effective policies and
technologies. Globally, a number of public-private
organizations and consumer campaigns address food waste,
but their efforts are far from comprehensive. More
information on food waste can be found in the books in [1213] and journals on food waste such as British Food Journal.
[1] Z. B. Irfanoglu et al., “Impacts of reducing global food
loss and waste on food security, trade, GHG emissions
[2] P. Vootla et al., “Food waste - A global challenge to
sustainability,” Proceedings of Advances in Science and
Engineering Technology International Conferences,
April 2018.
[3] D. C Wilson and C. A. Veli, “Waste management – Still a
global challenge in the 21st century: An evidence-based
call for action,” Waste Management & Research, vol. 33,
no. 12, 2015, pp. 1049 –1051.
[4] A. H. A. Abdelaal, “Food waste generation and its
potential management at Education City, Qatar,”
Master’s Thesis, Hamad Bin Khalifa University, April
[5] “Using the food hierarchy to minimise waste,” July
2019, https://www.cleanaway.com.au/sustainablefuture/food-recovery-hierarchy/
[6] “Food
[7] K. R. Bräutigam, J. Jörissen, and C. Priefer, “The extent
of food waste generation across EU-27: Different
calculation methods and the reliability of their results,”
Waste Management & Research, vol. 32, no. 8, 2014, pp.
683 –694.
[8] C. J. Reynolds et al., “Estimating informal household
food waste in developed countries: The case of
Australia,” Waste Management & Research, vol. 32,
no.12, 2014, pp. 1254 –1258.
[9] G. D. Magro and E. Talamini, “Estimating the magnitude
of the food loss and waste generated in Brazil,” Waste
Management & Research, vol. 37, no. 7, 2019, pp. 706 –
[10] Y. Munesue, T. Masui, and T. Fushima, “The effects of
reducing food losses and food waste on global food
insecurity, natural resources, and greenhouse gas
emissions,” Enviromental Economics and Policy
Studies, vol. 17, no. 1, January 2015, pp. 43-77.
[11] J. M. Boiteau, “Food loss and waste in the United States
[12] T. Stuart, Waste: Uncovering the Global Food Scandal.
New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 2009.
[13] J. M. Mandyck and E. B. Schultz, Food Foolish: The
Hidden Connection between Food Waste, Hunger and
Climate Change. Carrier Corp., 2015.
Figure 1 Waste management hierarchy [4].
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Figure 2 Food waste recovery hierarch [5].
Figure 3 A typical food waste at home [6].
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